Progress Update: Week #5

This past week has seen very little writing. Almost embarrassingly so. I have been feeling a bit under the weather, sleeping like crazy on the oddest hours, and lacking in energy all day. Perhaps I am coming down with something. But it will pass soon enough, and then we will clamber back on that bucking horse of writing. I did manage to start a new story, though. I mean, we didn’t have enough of those already. It’s a post apocalypse story, but instead of the usual zombies or aliens causing the fall of civilization, this is more of an opening the gates of hell sort of deal. Didn’t write all that much, but it is the one story that takes the most of my imagination and planning at the moment. The numbers are quite abysmal, but we will regain the momentum before long, just you wait and see.

Victorian Horror: 5,207 words (+95)
Urban Supernatural: 8,806 words (±0)
Dystopian SciFi: 1,671 words (±0)
Urban Horror: 508 words (±0)
Epic Fantasy: 5,155 words (±0)
Post Apocalypse: 836 words (+836)

Total: 22,183 words (+931)

Name, Please!

What is in a name? In real life, not all that much to be honest. Out in the real world we get to see how people look, we get to form an opinion on how they behave. The way we view others are based on actual experience. Not so when it comes to fiction. No matter how detailed a description may be, it will never be as chock-full of information as reality. The amount of data we acquire just by looking at a face for a few seconds would be enough to fill a whole novel. So in the fictional world, a name can be an enhancer, it can add flavour to a character.

If you imagine a man named Jack and a man named Jake, the mental images will undoubtedly differ. A woman named Helen and a woman named Helena will conjure up two distinct faces. The differences may be huge or they may be tiny, but there are always differences, no matter how minute. This is of course due to our brain’s ability to remember specific traits in people, sometimes subconsciously, and to relate them to different names. If you meet enough people named John who are tall, you will imagine a tall man the next time you hear the name John. In short, brains are awesome at putting pictures to words. It is sort of a short-hand for the brain, where information is more quickly retrieved by using shortcuts. And that is something that can be used when naming your fictional character.

The problem there is that not everybody has the same mental images. For example, I see Jack as a burlier, gruffer person than Jake. Helen to me would be fairer, while Helena would be darker. No doubt these names generate different variations in the minds of others. But there are names that are generally similar in what image they produce. Jedidiah. I doubt anyone thought of a Seattle hipster when they heard that name. Arnold. No one imagined a scrawny little kid upon hearing that. Things like that can be useful when choosing names. Arthur or Oscar would be a more suitable name for an old country doctor than Ajax or Orion. Unless of course the discrepancy between the character and the image their name conjures up is what you are after. Bob wouldn’t normally be the most suitable name for an old wizened wizard, but it could be just the right fit for your story. Names sure are a tricky business.

Another thing that is important is to keep an internal logic in your story. If you write a story about viking-like characters all named Thorvald, Harald, and Grim, it is going to look really weird when a Jim suddenly pops up. Nothing wrong with Jim of course, but without a solid explanation for such an out-of-character name, much of the immersion will be shattered. We don’t all have to study linguistics like Tolkien to keep the names sounding real in the confines of the story, but some level of consistency is absolutely vital. Names that sound to come from wholly different cultures, or even times, are always an immersion breaker. And this applies not only to made up names in fantasy and science fiction, but also to contemporary stories. If you pick nothing but names from some list of obscure given names, that will also break the illusion. Not everyone can be named Blaze or Electra. Throw in a good old Dave or Lisa for good measure. More common names are nothing to be shunned.

Anyways, I think I have confused you, and myself, quite enough for one day. Now I am off to figure out what to do with Bob the Wizard, because that actually sounded like a pretty fun idea.

Quote Confusion

This is just a little quick correction. I have seen quite a few people completely misunderstanding this quote, and as the anal knit-picker I am, of course it has been bothering me way more than it should. Some seem to be under the impression that this quote is about characters taking on a life of their own in your stories, that they end up saying things you had no idea they would. That is of course not true at all. It is simply a quote about how the words spoken by a character is not necessarily reflecting the opinions of the author. It is as simple as that. You can consider this your PSA of the day.

Progress Update: Week #4

I recently realised that I have been posting my weekly progress updates on the wrong day, technically speaking. They have all been posted some time after midnight, making each update’s time stamp Tuesday, and not Monday as intended. This of course makes no real difference, but all the same it is one of those little things that always tend to bother me. So from now on I will try to post these before midnight, thereby avoiding any such future glaring eyesores. So how was this week’s writing then? Not too shabby if I say so myself. As a slow and meticulous writer, these numbers are about as good as I can hope for.

Victorian Horror: 5,112 words (+379 words)
Urban Supernatural: 8,806 words (+3,807 words)
Dystopian SciFi: 1,671 words (±0)
Urban Horror: 508 words (+251 words)
Epic Fantasy: 5,155 words (+2,046 words)

Total: 21,252 words (+6,483 words)

Short Story Quandaries

Today I woke up very early—4 a.m. to be exact—and when I did I was hit by a small surge of creativity. I decided to finally, finally, get cracking on that short story I’ve had in my head for years. Much of the first half was already written down, although in dire need of a rewrite, and the rest was reasonably sketched out already. So there will be little problem in that department. However, I am not quite sure as to the best way of posting it on this here blog. The story is divided in to a fair number of scenes, and some of them are very short indeed. The most logical thing to me would be to simply post each scene separately. But that would make for some very paltry parts being posted. The first scene is less than 400 words, for example. And then we have the problem with indentations. How the hell do you get proper indentations on this? If anyone has any tips or suggestions, they would be most welcome.

Progress Update: Week #3

Crikey! I almost forgot all about my weekly update. I have been a very naughty boy of late in my constant neglect of this blog. I really should make an effort to come around for a visit more often. Don’t want it to feel too lonely. Oh well. So how was the writing the past week? Not great, but not too bad. I am a very slow and meticulous writer, so even pounding out just a few hundred words in an evening is often a success in my book. Get it? Book? Oh, never mind. As we can see, the number of works in progress has also grown. There’s that focus problem again. As for now, I am letting that be. In time I will have to start pouring my energy into one story at a time, but that time is not now. Not just yet.

Victorian Horror: 4,733 words (+1,041 words)
Urban Supernatural: 4,999 words (+864 words)
Dystopian SciFi: 1,671 words (±0)
Urban Horror: 257 words (+257 words)
Epic Fantasy: 3,109 words (+3,109 words)

Total: 14,769 words (+5,271 words)

Progress Update: Week #2

It is time for another progress update. Please, please. Settle down everyone. So how has the past week fared in regards to my writing? Well, not too bad at all actually. Some sporadic writing earlier in the week, with a more focused spurt during the weekend. I even managed to get sidetracked enough to start one of my science fiction stories. This lack of focus is definitely going to be the death of me. But enough jibber jabber. Let’s find out just how big a progress we made:

Victorian Horror: 3,692 words (+1,847 words)
Urban Supernatural: 4,135 words (+1,683 words)
Dystopian SciFi: 1,671 words (+1,671 words)

Total: 9,498 words (+5,201 words)